Labor Media and Culture to Face New Challenges [Archives:1998/09/Business & Economy]

March 2 1998

The General Federation of Workers’ Trade Unions (GFWTU) in Yemen and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) have jointly organized, during 21-23 February, a workshop on the role of labor media and culture in facing up to the challenges of the new age. Sponsored by the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, Eng. Mohammed Al-Tayyib, the workshop was attended by more than 20 participants from all over Yemen.
The workshop was also attended by the president of the GFWTU, Mr. Yahya Al-Kohlani; the ICFTU representative, Mr. Boyko Attnasov; the Deputy Minister of Information, Ms. Amatal-Aleem Al-Sousowa; and other specialists and media representatives.
Discussions by the participants exposed several pressing issues and the need to specify media priorities, targeted audience and social segments, and the information to be disseminated.
The problems and obstacles that must be surmounted in order to achieve a more active media role include the following:
1- Lack of resources and support.
2- Lack of awareness of the importance of the media in defending workers’ rights.
3- Lack of participation by trade union branches.
4- The workers’ general apathy towards the newspaper published by the GFWTU because of its failure to deal with their real problems.
5- Lack of the necessary media materials because of the inactivity of the media officials in the trade union branches.
6- The workers’ general circumstances, standards of living and cultural level.
7- Workers generally not paying their membership fees.
All these problems and the lack of materials and programs related to the workers’ real problems have made the official media cover official events only.
A speech was also given by Dr. Raoofa Hassan on the totalitarian media in which she concentrated on the workers’ culture priorities. “The most important thing is to develop the workers’ intellectual culture to be compatible with rapid changes of the modern era,” explained Dr. Hassan.
Another lecture by Mr. Fadhl A. Al-Aqel dealt with the emergence of the worker class in Yemen, the labor media, labor culture, the Institute of Trade Union Studies, the relationship with Arab and international federations of workers’ trade unions, and other relevant topics.

At the end of the workshop, the participants came up with the following conclusions and recommendations.

1- More such workshops and seminars should be organized in the future.
2- The GFWTU should establish specialized trade union schools, institutes, and centers to provide the trade union movement in Yemen with qualified cadres.
3- Comprehending the rapid world developments, especially in the process of privatization and globalization.
4- All possible means must be adopted to combat child labor.
5- Foreign labor needs to be gradually phased out and be replaced with local labor.
6- Women should be supported to assert their rights to work, participate in public life, and get involved in trade union activities; in accordance with the laws and Constitution.
7- Constant efforts must be made to ensure better living standards and vocational conditions for all Yemeni workers, and to fight administrative and financial corruption.
8- The importance of family planning must be emphasized through the official and mass media due to its utmost importance for the whole society.
9- The media and information efforts in Hadhramaut are highly praised, and should be emulated by other GFWTU branches in Yemen.

Labor Media
1- Labor media must be expanded and diversified, benefiting from the modern technologies in this field and the Internet in particular.
2- Various types of media should be exchanged with Arab and international trade union and cultural organizations.
3- Labor culture organizations should organize various programs on labor media.
4- Benefit must be made of the media capabilities and expertise available at international trade union organizations.
5- The linguistic skills of labor media personnel must be developed so that they would be able to closely follow world development in the field of labor.
6- TV and radio programs as well as press space must be allocated for the Yemeni trade union movement to publicize its news and activities and its role in the economic and social development.
Integrating Women
in the Modern Labor Market

The Symposium on Integrating Women in the Labor Market and Developing their Vocational Abilities was held in Sanaa during 24-26 February. It was the fruit of a joint effort by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the Dutch Embassy in Sanaa, the British Council, and the German Technical Cooperation office (GTZ). In addition to specialists and researchers, more than 50 people, representing local and foreign governmental and non-governmental organizations took part in this symposium.
The opening session was attended by the Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdul-Kareem Al-Iryani; the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, Eng. Mohammed Al-Tayyib; the ambassadors of Britain and Holland; the EU representative in Sanaa, the ILO representative; and members of the British Council in Sanaa.

Topics of Discussion
During the symposium, 11 research papers were submitted. They mainly dealt with the geographic, demographic and the population characteristics of the female labor force. Other papers included statistics on working women and the sectoral distribution of their economic activities.
Other topics discussed by the participants included policy formulation, legislations concerning working women, vocational training, tackling the effects of structural adjustment and economic reform, and employing gender issues in the strategies of integrating women in the labor market and the vocational training programs.
Also important for the participants were the issues of foreign support for working women, the role of NGOs in qualifying women and integrating them in the labor market, and other crucial topics.

Suggestion & Recommendations
– Amending the Yemeni law and legislation texts to be compatible with Arab and international labor standards concerning women.
– Preparing and issuing decisions and regulatory charters to protect working women and improve their conditions, including providing them with health insurance.
– Issuing a law to regulate the vocational education and training of women.
– Providing good legislative cover for workers in agriculture, especially women.
– Providing good opportunities for women to be present in the various legislative, executive, and judicial authorities and activating their decision-making roles, according to their abilities and proficiency.
– Activating the role of the media in raising awareness of women’s issues, their legal rights, and the legislations that best serve them.
– Developing the commercial, arbitration, investment and other laws to help provide women with many choices to be able to get involved in the labor market.
– Establishing a data-base on working women and coordinating with the relevant bodies to tackle any deficiencies in statistics.
– Conducting field surveys and studies to better know the real conditions of working women.
– Implementing national projects and programs to address the effects of structural adjustment and economic reforms, including activating the social safety network.
– Restructuring the NGOs in a way which allows the involvement of active women to take part in putting women’s needs and requirements with the rest of the priorities.
– Forming a supreme coordinating council for women affairs to be headed by the Prime Minister.
– Emphasizing girls’ rights to education as guaranteed by the Yemeni Constitution.
– Developing adult education programs to allow a larger number of women to enroll.
– Rectifying the way women are viewed in school curricula.
– Setting a long-term national strategy to develop vocational training programs for women in rural and urban areas.
– Improving the quality of training programs provided by women’s training centers.
– Developing a well-qualified staff of female trainers and instructors to work at women’s training centers.
– Providing the existing training centers with the necessary equipment and facilities.
– Formulating a comprehensive media campaign to encourage women to enroll in vocational training programs.
– Opening new vocational training centers for women in major towns and cities around the country.
Ahlam Al-Mutawakil,
Yemen Times